Saturday, May 21, 2011
Braves 5, Angels 4 (12): Three Up, Three Down
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- The Angels blew a 4-0 lead and their offense fell back into a funk over the final seven, scoreless innings as they lost to the Atlanta Braves 5-4 in 12 innings Saturday night. It was the Angels' 11th extra-inning game this season, most in the majors.
The Angels didn't have a hit from the sixth through 12th innings.
Producing. You could pretty much boil down the Angels' offensive woes for a while to the struggles of veterans Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu, who have been largely unable to drive in runs. Abreu started the Angels' offense with a two-run home run off Tommy Hanson over the short fence in right field and Hunter pulled a two-run single through the left side of the infield in the fifth. Hunter had the only two hits by a right-handed batter off Hanson, who is brutally tough on them.
Main guys. The first five hitters in the Angels' lineup Saturday got on base 10 times and scored and drove in all of the team's runs. That was a radical departure from earlier this season when it seemed as if the bottom of the order was carrying the team at times.
Mr. Sinker. Saturday night wasn't exactly a dominant showing from Joel Pineiro. He gave up 11 hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings, but lately he's been dancing out of most of the trouble . Pineiro (2-0) has given the Angels' rotation a boost since he came off the disabled list at the end of April. He didn't give up a run until Joe Mather's towering 3-run home run in the seventh inning.
Pitch selection. Reliever Hisanori Takahashi seemed to be pitching around cleanup hitter Brian McCann in the seventh inning, but he got a little too close to the plate with a 3-and-2 pitch and McCann pummeled it into the left-center field gap to tie the game and, eventually, spin it into extra innings.
Tapering off. The final five hitters in the Angels' lineup were not part of the offense. Hank Conger had a long at-bat before striking out in the sixth, but that was a rarity. The Nos. 5-9 hitters combined to go 0-for-20 with five strikeouts.
Expedience. The Angels haven't been in a hurry to get anything done this year. Saturday was their 11th extra-inning game out of 47 games. That's a pace for 38, which would set a major-league record. The Boston Red Sox proudly boast the record now. They played in 31.